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Mail Matters

I just got the following message:
Message "xxxxxx", sent at 06:10 EST on
05-Mar-99, could not be delivered to xxxxx at 06:10 EST on 05-Mar-99 because the recipient mailbox is full.
It seems that many people these days receive more email than they can easily cope with. Here are a few ideas to make life, and email in particular, easier and more fun. Limit your emails
  • Only subscribe to email newsletters which truly interest you and give you real value (oops, I'm doing myself out of subscribers here)
  • Never reply to 'spam' (unsolicited email), especially if it tells you how to remove yourself from their mailing list. This is often a trick used to verify your email address and may result in more emails, not less.
  • Make a clear distinction between emails that actually require your attention and those that are merely interesting, fun or amusing.
  • Make sure you feel confident when you process your email (sit up straight, smile, deep breath). With each email message think "What is the worst that can happen if I ignore this?" and "What is the easiest and quickest way to deal with this?" Automate
  • Many email packages can be set up to automatically move email from a specific source, or for a specific subject, to another folder. On my PC all newsletters go to a folder called 'unread', which I will dip into when I feel like getting some new ideas. Please note that I did not call this 'to read', because that suggests an obligation to read these, which only adds to the stress. I may never read all or any of these, but they are there when I want them.

Be efficient

  • Keep the pleasantries to minimum. Be friendly, polite and correct, but keep it brief.
  • Keep the rest of the email brief, only say what you need to say.
  • Put a time limit on your email processing. Give yourself 30 minutes to process all your email - you will find yourself much more efficient and focussed. Any task that comes from processing your email you can schedule as a separate task.
  • Process each message only once.
  • Keep your inbox empty. Once your inbox starts filling up, it becomes much more difficult to keep up to date.